G. Palmer Humphrey Sr., who was known for his quick wit and hard work as an activist in the Society of Plastics Engineers and the Plastics Pioneers Association, died Oct. 1. He was 95.
He died at home, in an assisted-living complex in Greenville, S.C.
Humphrey, who was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1994, remained active his entire life. He attended SPE's 2007 Annual Technical Conference in Cincinnati in May. He also made a trip to a Plastics Pioneers meeting in southwestern Pennsylvania just two weeks before he died.
His son, William A. Humphrey, said Palmer lived by himself and took care of himself. As part of the assisted-living services, he would push a button when he woke up each morning to alert the staff that was OK.
He didn't hit the button the morning of Oct. 2. Staff members found Humphrey in his garage.
``He had gone in there for something and had fallen on the floor. His cane was there and his flashlight was there,'' his son said in a telephone interview.
Humphrey's body was cremated Oct. 4, and members of his immediate family living in the South Carolina area attended a service. For his friends and associates in the plastics industry, a memorial service is planned for Dec. 1 at Covenant United Methodist Church in Greer, S.C.
``One of the loves of his life was the Plastics Pioneers, and so we're requesting that any donations be made to the Pioneers, for the scholarship program,'' his son said.
Even at 95, Humphrey had a crystal-clear memory and could crack a joke. He could charm an audience, his friends in the industry said.
``Palmer had a good life. And he had a good, high quality of life right to the end. That's the memory that we all want to have of him,'' said Robert Swain, managing director of the Plastics Pioneers, a position long held by Humphrey.
Humphrey was instrumental in starting the Plastics Pioneers' scholarship fund in 1989. Today, its endowment has grown to more than $1 million.
His career in plastics started during World War II, when he became purchasing director of Tech Art Plastics Corp. in Long Island City, N.Y. The company molded military electrical switches and controls. He worked with the War Production Board.
After the war, he started a manufacturers' representative agency on Madison Avenue in New York. He got into injection molding after he connected with Bruno Wessinger, a Long Island City mold maker who founded R.C. Molding in Farmingdale, N.Y. They were partners. Then the Humphrey family bought out the Wessingers in 1992 and moved the company to Greer.
Today, William Humphrey is president of R.C. Molding.
Palmer joined SPE in 1946 and was named a Distinguished Member in 1968. ``He was himself to the very end, active and involved,'' said SPE Executive Director Susan Oderwald. ``There is certainly a hole left in our SPE community with Palmer's passing. His wit and enthusiasm for the industry and SPE will be sorely missed.''
Palmer Humphrey met Wessinger at SPE's New York Section. He met other people at SPE that would change his life, especially Guy Martinelli.
Humphrey and Martinelli met in 1950. They became best friends. For years, at the SPE Antec business luncheon, they did a funny routine - Laurel and Hardy style - to make, then second, a motion for adjournment.
Martinelli died May 6, on the first day of the 2007 Antec. Humphrey carried on and made the adjournment motion on his own. ``I'm a sad man today because he died,'' he said of his friend.
In the months between Antec and the Pioneers meeting, Humphrey was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, his son said.
On the Sunday before he died, he attended a family cookout, his son said. William and his wife, Anne, visited him the next day. They talked. Palmer told them: ``Everything in life that I ever wanted to achieve, I achieved.''